DHAKA : A Bangladesh special court Wednesday sentenced an elderly former minister to life in prison on Wednesday for genocide during the 1971 war. Abdul Alim, 83, who was a minister when the current main opposition party was in power, was found guilty of nine charges including genocide, murder and persecution of the country's minority Hindus during the war, a senior official said.

The International Crimes Tribunal spared the wheelchair-bound Alim the death penalty, despite the gravity of the crimes, because of his poor health and age, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told reporters.

"He will remain in the prison until his death," Alam said, adding that he was convicted of involvement in the killing of 372 Hindus in one of the worst single acts of murder during the war.

Alim was the eighth person to be convicted and sentenced by the much-criticised tribunal since January.

Previous verdicts against top Islamists and opposition leaders have triggered widespread violence and nationwide strikes, leaving at least 100 people dead.

Alim had been a member of parliament for three terms, and a cabinet minister in the 1970s under a government led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

The BNP, now the main opposition party, has said the trials are politically motivated, aimed at targeting key opposition figures rather than meting out justice.